White Bugs in Soil: How To Get Rid of These Pests in Your Garden (2023)

White Bugs in Soil: How To Get Rid of These Pests in Your Garden (1)White bugs in soil are awful news most of the time. They attack your plant by sucking its sap, inhibiting its food supply, and eventually destroying it.

Only a handful of these white bugs, such as soil mites, might benefit your plants.

Read this complete list of the most common white bugs in the soil to learn how to identify and treat each one.


  • What Are the White Bugs in Soil?
    • – Soil Mites
    • – Spider Mites
    • – Whiteflies
    • – Root Aphids
    • – Fungus Gnats
    • – Scale Insects
    • – Root Mealybugs
  • How To Get Rid of White Bugs in Soil
    • – Isolate the Bug-infested Plant
    • – Physically Remove the Bugs
    • – Use Neem Oil
    • – Use Rubbing Alcohol
    • – Apply Insecticide
    • – Transplant Your Plant
  • Conclusion

What Are the White Bugs in Soil?

The white bugs lurking sneakily in your soil are probably spider or soil mites, white flies, or scale bugs. Aphids, mealybugs, and fungus gnats are also among the pests that return home within the soil and harm the plant.

You can read about all these bugs individually in this list that we have compiled.

– Soil Mites

Soil mites are one of the most common tiny white insects in your soil and compost bin. They are about the size of a pinhead and are so small that you can barely see them with your naked eyes. You might notice them as countless tiny white spots living among your soil.

Contrary to a widespread misconception, soil mites are not harmful insects. They perform many beneficial services for your plant. They break down and feed on the organic matter within your soil, enabling your roots to have easy access to minerals.

They also attack and combat algae, fungus, and other bugs in the soil, making it safer for your plants. Some types of soil mites aerate the soil and regulate other living organisms within it. As such, there is no reason for you to kill soil mites since they are so helpful.

– Spider Mites

The difference between soil mites vs spider mites is that a soil mite is quite a harmless insect. On the other hand, spider mites are white or reddish bugs that suck the plant sap. This is what makes spider mites harmful.

(Video) Get rid of white insects in soil instantly

The appearance of fine, web-like threads is the most tell-tale symptom of an infestation by these mites. These webs will be seen mainly around the stems or under the leaves.

These mites also cause the leaves to turn yellow and weak. Yellowing can also be seen on the stem after some time. Most importantly, the plant’s growth comes to a halt.

– Whiteflies

Whiteflies are one of the most common bugs in the soil that can attack a plant. They are easy to spot and even easier to recognize as they are white-colored and have wings.

They spread and thrive in the soil while also attacking your plants. Their sap-sucking eventually manifests as damaged leaves with curled, brown edges. Over time, the plant’s growth continues to slow until it stops altogether.

Even if you cannot see them, they leave a sticky residue called honeydew. You can feel this residue on the leaves and stems of a plant under attack by whiteflies.

– Root Aphids

These are aphids that live at or near the surface line of the soil. They are oval in shape and woolly white in appearance. They are not easily visible to the eyes living under the plant soil. Your soil might be teeming with them without you ever finding out.

You should suspect an aphid infestation if the leaves of your indoor plant are beginning to wilt despite a good care regime. Sometimes, the leaves simply begin to curl and turn discolored.

If you cannot see pests under the leaves or sheaths, there are white bugs in soil eating roots. In this case, you should sift through the top of your potting soil. You will find a lot of these tiny white bugs there.

– Fungus Gnats

These gnats are flies that are easy to find in ordinary houseplant soil. They are small and legless bugs that have white bodies and black heads. They are notorious for leaving slimy trails that are visible over the soil of the potted plants. Keep in mind that they will only attack in consistently moist and humid soil.

These gnats and their larvae feed on the organic content of the soil, severely limiting their availability to your house plants.

– Scale Insects

These insects come in various colors, even white, and are so small that they look more like bumps on the plant and the soil. They pierce the surface of your plants and are super hard to get rid of.

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Their symptoms are the same as other bugs. Yellow spotting, curling of the edges, and eventual leaf drop in extreme cases are common with scales. If you look closely with a microscope, you might also see the puncture marks.

– Root Mealybugs

Unlike mealybugs that nest under the leaves above the soil, root mealybugs infest the roots of the plant and live beneath the soil. They are small, round-shaped tiny white bugs that feed on sap directly from the roots.

Over time, they multiply in large numbers and significantly disrupt the nutrient supply of the plant. The leaves of the affected plants start drooping. They might also develop yellow discolored spots or leaf edges.

Eventually, the plant starts to suffer from severe weakness. If you depot such a plant, you will see that its roots are wilted, discolored, and covered with honeydew.

How To Get Rid of White Bugs in Soil

First, isolate the said plant to get rid of the bugs in the soil. Wash the plant and the soil deeply to eliminate as many bugs as possible. Then start with either natural or chemical insecticides or repot the plant in sterilized soil.

– Isolate the Bug-infested Plant

The first task you must execute is to immediately isolate the plant infested with white bugs. Most of these bugs are mobile creatures who can quickly jump from one plant to the next. Before you know it, all your plants will be under attack, and you will have to treat them all.

– Physically Remove the Bugs

The second step to removing houseplant bugs is to remove as many of these as you physically can. Bugs out of the soil and on the plant are easy to remove. You can use a paper towel or a brush to scrub them off.

Then take your indoor plants and place them under a sink. In the case of outdoor plants, use a hose to water the soil thoroughly so that a maximum amount of bugs and their larvae flow away.

– Use Neem Oil

Neem oil is an excellent natural ingredient that kills bugs quickly without harming your plants. The most effective method is to mix a teaspoon of this oil with a gallon of water. Add a tablespoon of dishwashing soap too. What you have now is an organic insecticidal spray that you can put on your plant and its potted soil every week.

You can also add two to three drops of this oil to the water you give your soil. This will ensure that it eventually reaches the whole of your soil and kills the bugs and their eggs.

– Use Rubbing Alcohol

Take 75 percent isopropyl alcohol and rub it on the affected plant with a cotton roll. For the soil, mix a few drops of alcohol in the water you give your plant regularly. This will get rid of those pesky bugs in no time.

(Video) Tiny white bugs in soil? How to get rid of soil mites

– Apply Insecticide

Different types of insecticides are available in the market. The most common, reasonable, and practical are, of course, from the time-tested organophosphates. You need to buy ones that are not too harsh and concentrated but only mild in intensity.

With insecticidal sprays, you need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions diligently. Make a proper spraying schedule and stick to it. Don’t forget to direct the aim of the spray towards the potting soil because that is where most of these bugs are.

Also, follow your safety protocol while using these chemicals. Wear clothes that cover your whole body, as well as thick rubber gloves and shoes. Your eyes especially need to be covered with protective goggles.

– Transplant Your Plant

The soil needs to go when you have tried all the treatments mentioned above and the bugs still keep coming back. You will have to transplant your plant into new, sanitized soil.

Water your soil deeply so that it turns soft, then take a rake to remove the topsoil slowly, lifting the plant simultaneously. Take great care not to damage the plant’s roots in the process.

Now wash the plant’s roots thoroughly and apply neem or alcohol spray on them. Fill your new pot with soil that has been properly sanitized and repot the plant in it.


White Bugs in Soil: How To Get Rid of These Pests in Your Garden (2)Today, we learned all about white soil insects and how to get rid of them.

Here’s a quick recap;

  • Scales, mealybugs, and mites, whether soil or spider ones are the most common white bugs among these pests.
  • Most common pests attack the plant and suck sap from it. Some pests in the soil block nutrients from being absorbed by the roots.
  • You can eliminate soil pests by washing the plant and using insecticides.
  • You can choose natural insecticides or chemical ones as per your choice.

That’s it! You now have enough information on white pests in the soil and how to treat them.

(Video) Soil treatment for insects

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How do you get rid of little white bugs? ›

Take away points of entry by placing screens on windows and doors and using caulk to seal cracks and crevices. Outdoors, watering regularly has shown to discourage White Mite activity. Water on a weekly basis at a rate of 1 to 1.5 inches, but be sure not to overwater as this may invite more pest activity to your yard.

How do you get rid of white mealy bugs? ›

  1. Dip cotton balls and swabs in alcohol and remove all visible mealybugs. ...
  2. Mix 1 cup of rubbing alcohol with few drops of Dawn dish soap and 1 quart (32oz) of water. ...
  3. Spray the whole plant, not only where mealybugs are visible. ...
  4. Repeat the treatment once or twice a week until the issue is gone.

How do you get rid of mites in potting soil? ›

How to Get Rid of Soil Mites (If You Must)
  1. Be sure the mites are present. ...
  2. The simplest way to get rid of them is to repot your plant in new, high-quality potting soil.
  3. Remove the plant and dispose of the soil. ...
  4. Clean the pot thoroughly, removing any soil residue which might be harboring mites.
20 Sept 2022

How do I make sure my soil is bug free? ›

How to Get Rid of Bugs in Garden Soil
  1. Clean the Soil: It is very important to clean the soil of your garden regularly. ...
  2. Limit the Soil Disturbance: You should not turn the soil regularly. ...
  3. Using Compost: ...
  4. Using Mulch: ...
  5. Rotate Crops: ...
  6. Plant Covering Crops: ...
  7. Give Water on your Plants Every Day: ...
  8. Monitor Your Garden:
9 Aug 2021

What are the tiny white bugs in my soil? ›

What are These Little White Bugs in Soil? These are soil mites! They are difficult to see with the naked eye but if you look closely, you can see they are about the size of a pinhead and look a bit like very small ticks or spiders. There are many different types of soil mites, but none are harmful to people or animals.

What are the little white bugs in my garden? ›

The white tiny bugs on plants in your garden may be whiteflies, mealybugs, or spider mites. Spider Mite on leaf. All three can live on a wide variety of plants and they feed by spearing the leaves and stems and sucking the sap.

What kills mealy bugs instantly? ›

Spot Treatment with Isopropyl Alcohol

On small infestations on houseplants, a 70% or less solution of isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol in water may be dabbed directly on mealybugs with a cotton swab to kill them or remove them.

Does vinegar get rid of mealy bugs? ›

Take 1 ounce of apple cider vinegar and mix it with 2-3 ounces of water. Pour this liquid into a garden sprayer and spray in the evening. Apple cider vinegar stops the molting process of mealybugs, and will also help to kill the majority of pests on the plants.

What do mealybugs look like in soil? ›

Soil Mealy Bugs are tiny white or gray insects, resembling small grains of rice, are visible on the surface of the rootball. You may also see these insects on top of the soil, gathered around the main stem. If this is the case, infestation is probably heavy.

What is the fastest way to get rid of soil mites? ›

One of the natural ways to kill mites in the soil is by spraying the mixture of dish wash soap and starch. Mix three drops of dish wash soap and three to four tablespoons of starch in five cups of water. After that, spatter the mixture on the soil to eliminate the mites.

Does cinnamon get rid of soil mites? ›

Another organic solution to kill soil mites is cinnamon. Not only is this method effective for getting rid of insects in the topsoil, but it also does not harm the plants and has a pleasant aroma.

Why do I keep getting soil mites? ›

Soil Mites are often present in continually moist compost or when situated in darker areas of the house with little natural light. They can also be brought into the home by contaminated outdoor compost and will stay localised to the specific pot they're infesting.

How do you disinfect bugs from soil? ›

Steaming is considered one of the best ways to sterilize potting soil and should be done for at least 30 minutes or until the temperature reaches 180 degrees F. (82 C.). Steaming can be done with or without a pressure cooker.

How do you sterilize soil? ›

The medium is high in nutrients, which might cause bacteria and fungus to grow in your vertical farming system. To ensure that your medium is clear of bacteria and illnesses, disinfect it with hydrogen peroxide. To do this, just sprinkle some hydrogen peroxide in your organic potting mix.

How do you clean an infested soil? ›

How to Sterilize Your Garden Soil
  1. Remove Infected Plant Material. ...
  2. Till Your Soil. ...
  3. Water Your Soil. ...
  4. Cover the Soil with Clear Plastic. ...
  5. Wait for the Sun to Do Its Work. ...
  6. Replace Beneficial Organisms with Compost. ...
  7. Leave Your Garden Unplanted. ...
  8. Choose Resistant Plants.

How do I get rid of white aphids in my soil? ›

  1. Remove aphids by hand by spraying water or knocking them into a bucket of soapy water.
  2. Control with natural or organic sprays like a soap-and-water mixture, neem oil, or essential oils.
  3. Employ natural predators like ladybugs, green lacewings, and birds.
6 May 2020

Are white soil mites harmful to humans? ›

Are soil mites harmful to humans and animals? Whilst soil mites are not aggressive and do not bite or attack people or animals, they are known to carry some potentially harmful pathogens and parasites such as tapeworms.

Are white mites harmful to plants? ›

White mites damage plants by sucking the juices from plant tissue. The tiny pests have piercing-sucking mouthparts, and white mites bite into leaves and stems with these. The result is leaf yellowing, and leaves may eventually turn brown. A severe white mite infestation can result in complete defoliation.

How do I get rid of white bugs in my garden? ›

An insecticidal soap like Safer Soap can be used to knock down heavy infestations. Insecticidal soaps coat the eggs and larvae with a coating that makes it difficult for them to breathe. It'll also kill off adult whiteflies.

What kills white bugs on plants? ›

If the infested plant is small or there aren't many mealybugs, dab the insects with a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol. This will kill and wipe off the bugs, as well as clean away the honeydew.

How do I get rid of white flying bugs in my garden? ›

Always start with blasting whiteflies (as with aphids and many other insect pests) with your watering hose or a spray bottle. This will cause them to scatter and will dislodge nymphs and eggs to some extent. Consider spraying your plants' leaves with an insecticidal soap, following the directions on the packaging.

What are soil mites? ›

Soil mites are anthropods that feed off decaying organic matter. There are many different species of mites, but the most common ones are called Oribatid mites. These tiny little mites are found almost everywhere on the planet, including Antarctica! These tiny creatures are scavengers that are about 0.2-1mm long.

Do mealybugs live in soil? ›

Mealybugs in Soil

Because they live deep in the soil and feed on roots, these mealybugs may not be visible at first glance, but they eventually cause the health of the plant to dwindle, says the University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program.

What causes white bugs on plants? ›

Whitefly issues frequently originate via a plant purchased at an infested greenhouse, which makes a careful inspection of any new plants extra important. These tiny, white, moth-like flies are found on leaf undersides and will quickly fly off the plant when it's disturbed.

What naturally kills mealy bugs? ›

Mealybug Control Using Neem Oil

Neem oil is a natural pest control product that is a very effective for getting rid of mealybugs on houseplants. Not only will it kill the bugs, it's also great for residual pest prevention as well.

How do you keep mealy bugs from spreading? ›

Reducing feeding and watering may sometimes prevent mealybugs since it reduces nitrogen levels and hardens a plant's growth. Wiping foliage regularly with a leaf shine solution containing neem oil may prevent mealybugs on susceptible plant species.

What is a natural way to get rid of mealybugs? ›

Use a plain jet of water to disrupt the bugs' feeding, and spray plants with neem oil to discourage the bugs from coming back. Neem oil spray will not affect bees, making it ideal for the pollinator-friendly landscape. You can also kill mealybugs directly by wiping them with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.

How long can mealy bugs live in soil? ›

On standard plants, they may hide under the tape on the garden stakes. Honeydew, sooty mold and the presence of ants may also be signs of a mealybug infestation. Mealybugs can live for 2 to 3 weeks without hosts.

How often can I use hydrogen peroxide on my plants? ›

Spray your plants' foliage once per week if you're using hydrogen peroxide as a preventive. If your garden already has bugs, you may need to use hydrogen peroxide two or three times per week to get rid of them. You should also apply the spray after it rains, as the showers will wash off any spray you have applied.

How does hydrogen peroxide get rid of soil mites? ›

To eliminate insect pests, mix one part of hydrogen peroxide with two parts of water and spray the foliage and stems daily for one week. Then, reduce the treatment to once per week. To use it as a fungicide spray, mix 4 teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide with 1 pint of water.

Will hydrogen peroxide hurt plants? ›

This extra oxygen (H2O2) gives hydrogen peroxide its beneficial properties. So, the answer to the question, “Does hydrogen peroxide hurt plants?” is a resolute no, provided the strength is sufficiently diluted. You can purchase hydrogen peroxide in various potencies.

Can you sprinkle cinnamon on soil? ›

When first planting or repotting houseplants and outdoor container plants, you can also mix cinnamon powder into the soil to help prevent mold and fungus from the start. In addition to helping ward of mold, the cinnamon has the added benefit of helping the roots of plants grow better as well.

Can I sprinkle cinnamon in my garden? ›

Even indoor-grown plants can benefit from a bit of cinnamon. Cinnamon is most effective in greenhouses, where it can be used to kill spider mites, whiteflies, and other common pests. All you have to do is sprinkle cinnamon on the surface of the soil around your plants.

Can you put cinnamon powder in soil? ›

Dust cinnamon on the soil surface when the seeds are planted to prevent damping-off disease from killing your plants. Cinnamon is a good anti-fungal. It kills fungal spores in the soil and prevents them from infecting your plants.

How do you clean soil with hydrogen peroxide? ›

Sterilizing Chemically with Hydrogen Peroxide

Prepare the 3% hydrogen peroxide mix by adding 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide for every gallon of water, then load the quantity in a sprayer. Spread the soil on a plastic sheet for optimal coverage. Spray the solution on the soil, and make sure you cover every part.

How do you use hydrogen peroxide in soil? ›

Disinfect organic potting mix to kill bacteria and diseases before use. Sprinkle 1/2 a cup of H2O2 3% over the potting mix before use, and mix in thoroughly before potting up, or mis 1:1 in a spray bottle and mist generously, then mix through.

Can you bake potting soil to get rid of bugs? ›

To keep that from happening again, you can bake soil to kill any adults or immature fungus gnats. It's sort of stinky, baking soil, but it works. Set the oven thermometer between 175 and 200 degrees (no hotter than that), spread your soil in a thin layer on a cookie sheet and bake for about an hour.

Which chemical is used to disinfect soil? ›

The most common disinfectants are: Cloropicrine, Dichloropropenes, Metam-sodium, Metam-potassium, Methyl tioisocyanate, Agrocelhone or some combination of them. Chemical soil disinfection is the most popular technique because of its easy application and effectiveness against insects, nematodes, fungi and weeds.

What is the most common method of sterilizing soil? ›

Steaming leads to a better starting position, quicker growth and strengthened resistance against plant disease and pests. Today, the application of hot steam is considered the best and most effective way to disinfect sick soil, potting soil and compost.

What are the little white bugs all over my house? ›

Most likely to be found in the kitchen, grain mites are extremely small, pearly-white or grayish-white insects. They prefer to live in conditions with high moisture and humidity. As their name implies, they feed on processed grains, as well as wheat germ, yeast, cheese, flour and cereals.

What are these tiny little white bugs? ›

If you're seeing tiny white bugs inside food packages, on wallpaper, or in—you guessed it—books, you're likely dealing with booklice (otherwise known as psocids). Psocids aren't actually lice, and they're also known as barklice or barkflies. Booklice are pesky but mostly harmless bugs that prefer dark, damp places.

Are tiny white bugs harmful? ›

Tiny White Bugs on Skin. If you notice tiny white bugs crawling over your skin, you need to identify them immediately! Many little white bugs are mites (small arachnids with eight legs). Some mite species (like dust mites and mold mites) don't bite but may cause allergic reactions.

What causes white mites? ›

Grain mites are very attracted to moisture and can enter your house if you bought infested food. These microscopic mites will hide in damp storage locations such as kitchens and pantries. The first obvious sign of a grain mite infestation is the presence of “mite dust”, especially during hot, humid conditions.

How do I get rid of white mites naturally? ›

Here's how to get rid of mites in 5 easy steps:
  1. Remove clutter from your house or business. This includes stacks of paper and laundry piles. ...
  2. Treat all affected areas with Sterifab. ...
  3. Vacuum and dust regularly. ...
  4. Cover your bed, mattress and pillow with dust-proof covers. ...
  5. Wash sheets and bedding in HOT water.
13 Sept 2022

What does a white mite look like? ›

White mites are almost impossible to spot with the naked eye. The pesky bugs may appear as minuscule light-colored dots, making them hard to identify. But up close, two-spotted white spider mites have translucent clear-white, oval bodies, tiny legs, and two antennae.

Can white mites live on humans? ›

Although they may “hitchhike” on clothing, dust mites do not live on people. They feed primarily on dander, flakes of dead skin that fall from people and animals.

How do you get rid of white mold mites? ›

To get rid of mould mites, you need to treat the source of their foodstuff and remove the mould. For small areas, you may be able to get rid of the mould yourself by scrubbing the area with home remedies made up of bleach or white vinegar, or even shop-bought mould-remover preparations.

Do white mites spread? ›

They are common on succulents, but they can spread to other types of houseplants, flowers, and vegetation as well. It is possible for the infestation to begin with just a single succulent plant. However, as the mites multiply and increase, they will also spread rapidly to other plants in no time at all.

How do you get rid of white bugs on plants? ›

A solution of soapy water containing potassium salts is also an effective way of dealing with soft-bodied insects in garden like the mealy bug. But first, test it out on a few leaves as it can damage the plant as well.

Is it OK to have bugs in your soil? ›

So you've encountered a problem that's all too familiar for myself, you have discovered some small, fast bugs in your soil, now what? Well, first of all, don't panic. Most likely they are harmless, in fact, they're probably beneficial to your plant.

What temperature kills white mites? ›

When dealing with mites, you need to wash your bedding in extremely hot water. Any temperature over 122 degrees Fahrenheit should suffice. This is the minimum temperature required to kill off bugs.

What are white mites? ›

White mites are a species of two-spotted spider mites. They're a part of the Arachnida genus Tetranychus. Mites are also closely related to the tick family due to both being a part of the arachnid family. They are small, clear, white, and have eight legs.


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